Pakistan proposes dates for Saarc meet

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 24, 2015-

Pakistan has proposed to host the 19th Saarc Summit in Islamabad in November next year with three separate dates.

A senior foreign ministry official said that Pakistan has circulated three separate dates for the summit in November next year. But the member states are yet to confirm.

According to the official, Pakistan has proposed Nov 11-12, 17-18 and 25-25 for the summit, which will be followed by a meeting of the Saarc Council of Ministers at foreign minister level.

Earlier, Pakistan has hosted two summits of the regional grouping in 1988 and 2004.

At present, Nepal is the chair of the regional bloc as the host of the 18th summit which was held in Kathmandu in November last year. During the 18th Saarc Summit in Kathmandu, the eight-member regional block had agreed to hold the meeting every two years.

With Pakistani already sending a proposal for the 19th summit, pressure is mounting on Nepal to complete the meetings of various Saarc mechanisms, including the inter-summit that reviews and assesses the progress made in the past and takes up new agenda for the new summit.

For this, according to Nepali officials, Nepal has proposed March 14-17 for the inter-summit that includes programming committee meeting at the joint secretary level, standing committee meeting at the foreign secretary and Saarc Council of Ministers meeting at the foreign minister level.

Nepal has drawn flak for failing to expedite the Saarc process as the chair of the regional bloc - earlier due to an earthquake on April 25 and now due to ongoing political standoff and unrest in the southern plains.

Saarc inter-summit a key mechanism that usually takes place in the middle of two summits. The inter-summit also sets tone for the upcoming summit, makes recommendation for meetings and sets the agenda among others.

 ‘We have completed some of the meetings of programming committee and others and some are in pipeline. So we are happy with the progress made by us as Saarc chair,” said Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi. A meeting at the Saarc foreign minister level will be held first, which will be following meetings at foreign secretary and secretary levels.

The inter-summit is expected to review the progress made during the Kathmandu declaration of the 18th Saarc summit and matters pertaining to strengthening Saarc’s mechanisms. Issues related to the Saarc Secretariat, connectivity, trade, transit, poverty alleviation will also figure.

Saarc has a host of inter-governmental mechanisms, eleven Regional Centres and four specialised bodies.

A Comprehensive Study prepared recently by the Saarc Secretariat spells out measures to make Saarc a robust and dynamic regional entity. Several recommendations made in the study have already been approved by the Inter-Summit Session of the Saarc Council of Ministers held in February 2014 in the Maldives. The summit has also recommended proposals to strengthening the process.

Published: 24-11-2015 08:26

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